What is the difference between Fact and Truth?

  • I'm curious about the difference between Fact and Truth. I was searching on the internet if I could find it. But still I'm confused about the exact meaning.

    I first read the forum discussion here Fact and Truth where an author has given two examples for each like below

    A fact is a reality that cannot be logically disputed or rejected. If I say "fire is hot," I don't care how great your reasoning skills are, if you touch fire your skin will burn (and don't give me that "but people can walk on hot coals!" bull. There's a difference between the transfer of heat through conduction and training one's body to deal with the agonizing pain of said conduction). Now when I say this, I am not speaking a truth, I am speaking a fact. If you say "fire is not hot," you are not lying, you are incorrect. Facts are concrete realities that no amount of reasoning will change. When one acknowledges a fact, they are doing just that. Facts are not discovered, facts are not created, facts are simply acknowledged.

    A truth on the other hand, is almost the opposite. Truths are those things that are not simply acknowledged, but must be discovered, or created. If I say "God exists," and I possess strong reasoning for the affirmative of that statement, then God really does exist, that is a reality. However, if another individual possesses strong reasoning for the negative, and because of this reasoning they believe that God does not exist, then that is also a reality. If we were to debate our ideologies, and my reasoning appeared stronger than theirs, they may choose to adopt my belief that God does exist. If they do, then the existence of God is just as true as the nonexistence of God which they believed a week ago. Truths, as opposed to fact, are much more fluid and malleable than their empirical counterparts.

    and followed by further discussion.

    Then I found this Reference.
    Article from above link says like below:

    Facts are notes and lyrics on sheet music. Truth is what the singer gives to the listener when she’s brave enough to open up and sing from her heart.

    But still curious about the difference between both of them.

    In our daily life, in general conversation, we generally use these both terms interchangeably. Then what is the difference? Are they synonym or have specific difference?

    Two thoughts: (1) I don't understand the second quote, (2) the author of the first quote is describing, admittedly in an imprecise way, the usual _analytic/synthetic_ distinction, where she/he is calling synthetic truths "facts" and analytic truths "truths". It's a pretty standard way of thinking about the distinction.

    @HunanRostomyan, I was first thought that analytic thinking is used for Facts. But now how to understand analytic/synthetic distinction? and as per you suggestion, I have also added logic tag :)

    Following Carnap, I take analytic/synthetic to be notions relative to a _language system_ (aka 'logic') and a set (actually a conjunction) of sentences he calls _meaning postulates_ (aka 'definitions'/'conventions'). Sentence S is called analytic in language system L with respect to meaning postulates P if and only if when the logical vocabulary of L is interpreted, S becomes a logical consequence of P. For example: the sentence 'if John is a bachelor then John is unmarried' is analytic in FOL with respect to meaning postulate 'for all x, if x is a bachelor then x is not married'.

    I'm used to hearing "fact" be used to describe any true proposition.

    @Dennis, then what can we use for "truth"?

    @Dennis Truths describe facts. The proposition itself can be true, but the thing it describes is usually a fact.

    @KenB My memory is clearly hazy, thanks for the refresher. For others, you might check here SEP entry on Facts.

    The sun rises in the East - This statement is a FACT. However, if you still dwell on the subject, this is only a perception but Sun remains in a statutory position and it is globe that is rotating to give us the feeling that the sun is rising in the East. This is the Truth. Similarly what is the difference between bargaining and negotiation ?

    Fact is a literal reality. Truth is the experience of reality.

    Perhaps your question is too vague. In science truth means something different than philosophy. Usually in philosophy to say something is true is to say it is objectively true or it is corresponding truth. All truths are NOT the same. There are distinct TYPES of truth. Some truths are temporal while others are forever true. Facts express something always true & impossible to be false. The definition is not subject to opinion or belief. Which type of truth were you asking about?

    Reality is a continuous set of physical sensations. Truth is a mathematical mapping between abstractions. Truth about reality AKA facts are sets of abstractions that mathematically map to physical sensations through a mathematical model of the world.

  • Lukas

    Lukas Correct answer

    7 years ago

    The quote about facts gets it pretty right. A fact is, for many philosophers, a part of reality (Russel, for example). So as there are people and tables and chairs in our world, there is also the fact that I am sitting on the chair. It is as real as the chair itself. You often see some kind of brackets when someone speaks about fact, so for example: < I am sitting on a chair> converts to "The fact that I am sitting on a chair".

    Truth is a property of sentences, propositions, utterances, whatever you like. Facts can therefore not be true, in the same way as a chair cannot be true. Stating a fact, however, and depending on your opinion, has a truthvalue.

    I think the second quote about truth is a bit problematic. It sounds as if good arguments alter reality. But arguments cannot be true, they can be valid, and they can be truthconserving. So if I have an argument for the existence of god, it is at best valid. That does not mean, however, that suddenly, in virtue of the good argument, god came into existence.


    Edit: More on truth

    So on one common view those things that can be true are propositions. So a meaningful exression would be: The proposition that snow is white is true.

    If you believe that sentences are the things that can be true, then this would be an example: The sentence "Grass is green" is true.

    Most people believe that facts cannot be true: They think that "(The fact that grass is green) is true" is a weird thing to say. (I use brackets to make clear that the predicate "is true" refers to the fact. Because otherwise there could be a second reading about the (fact that grass is green is true), if there is such a fact)

    To conclude:(i) There is the fact that grass is green, and (ii) the proposition that grass is green is true.

    Also it is worth pointing out that there are philosophers who say that there are no facts, because facts are weird ontological things and maybe you can do without them. So this is just one way to answer this question.

    Can you please more elaborate your "chair" example for "Truth"?. I little bit got about the "Fact" for chair but could not understood about "Truth" for given example.

    To reword @Lukas's very valid answer: A chair cannot be "true". "This chair is true" makes no sense. Similarly, it is a fact that I am currently sitting on a chair, and "His act of sitting on that chair is true" makes no sense. Truth doesn't apply to things, actions, or states. Truth is purely a property of *claims*/*assertions*. So a chair can't be true, my act of sitting on the chair can't be true, but the *assertion* "He is sitting on that chair" can be true.

    I fixed the first paragraph, last sentence is now actually understandable (bracketed example were not displayed).

    @Lukas, Can you please still elaborate little more about example of `Truth` with respect to `Fact`? I got an example for `Fact` but still little want to clear about `Truth`. Can you give another example?

    This answer is spot on. All of the other answers (at the time of writing) are completely off and have no support whatsoever in philosophy.

    I would add: There are philosophers who think that there are no truths (or more precisely, that truth isn't *really* a property), because truths are weird ontological things we can probably do without.

    You make no distinction between fact & truth. If your definition is based on science you should at least state that fact. You make no mention that there a distinct TYPES of truth. In science perhaps you think truths are relative. This is not so in philosophy. There are Objective truths which is what philosophy usually refers to but you don't mention it. The truth that Donald Trump is President will not hold forever. So does that claim hold two values true and false? You need to re-evalute your definitions. They fall short.

  • A fact    is a perception of            reality.
    A truth   is a perception which matches reality.
    

    There is a nice parallelism with [axiomatic] formal systems:

    An axiom   is a building block for           possible worlds.
    A  theorem is a statement      about certain possible worlds.
    

    Ok, that didn't turn out quite as well as I hoped. I was trying to establish the analogy:

    fact : truth :: theorem : axiom
    

    There is a weird asymmetry:

        fact ↔ theorem
        truth ↔ axiom

    At least, I expected it to work the other way around. The convention in this thread has facts being possibly wrong; we are much more used to axioms being possibly wrong, for we only call something a 'theorem' if it has been logically demonstrated to flow from the axioms. Then again, if we are trying to approximate the world with a formal system, we are essentially searching for axioms that generate theorems which match the facts. In pictogram format:

      (fact)
    observation   < —— >   theorem
        ∧                     ∧
        |                     |
        ∨                     ∨
      truth                 axiom
    

    Excepting tautologies, truths are unknowable except by approximation; we must remember that science models reality, but it does not say what reality is. Models are made up of axioms & theorems. To the extent that our theorems match our observations ('the facts'), we think that our axioms are [close to] truths.

    P.S. The word 'reality' in this answer can be replaced with 'possible world'; what is true in a fictional world may not be true in our actual world. Assuming there is an objective reality, of course. :-)

    The appeal to "perception" here seems to beg certain very important questions; namely, that there might be a substantial ontological difference between the things in the world that ought properly be considered facts and the things in the world that an observer can form true beliefs about. You can see this quite well on the maths side, since it's a matter of philosophical and mathematical controversy to say that the only acceptable models of mathematical ontology are those isomorphic to a proof-theoretic semantic structure.

    @PaulRoss: that is one packed statement! What's an example of something which _isn't_ 'a proof-theoretic semantic structure', which _is_ a candidate for describing 'things in the world'?

    how about set theoretic models? The idea that there are more sets than can be given in purely constructive terms is quite established in analysis. And if we want all of that mathematical power at our disposal, using set theoretic foundations for logical structure has definite value over and above what can be said of strictly formal proof theory.

    @PaulRoss: I'm trying to imagine a form of mathematics that doesn't have both (a) axioms; (b) theorems. Set theory is _axiomatized_, like with ZFC. The fact that a given set of axioms cannot construct all things is, in my opinion, an obvious corollary of Gödel's second incompleteness theorem. We'll always have to be finding new sets of axioms to properly 'generate' new things we see in nature. But perhaps I'm locked into a given way of thinking that requires (a) and (b), when there is another way?

    I think you're proposing something radically at odds with both current mathematical practice and all of the currently live proposals to amend that practice, and suggest you might want to investigate more of what is currently out there. Have you tried, say, looking at ideas in Reverse Mathematics, Category Theory, Type Theory or alternative Set theories?

    @PaulRoss: I know a little about what you mention. What I'm confused about is how any of them conflict with what I've stated in my answer. I'm struggling to think of a kind of mathematics which doesn't use (a) axioms and (b) theorems. Perhaps I should add (c) rules? You seem to be imagining a _different_ way to reason and I'm not sure what it is. If you are merely saying that I haven't not covered all logically possible systems, I'll concede that. But are there any other extant systems which don't fit? If so, why don't they fit? You haven't made this clear.

    Where did you get facts are perception? I doubt you would disagree that a person's perception can be erroneous. In this way your definition will fail in too many samples. You make no distinction of temporal truths such as it is raining and permanent truths like all women are human beings. Truth is not truth. You could have given the context you were using such as a science context or a street context. In philosophy there are some things called objective truths which you did not cover.

    @Logikal, I allowed that facts can be wrong. If they cannot, then I see no difference between 'fact' and 'truth'. As to the rest, did I not deal with that via `fact : truth :: theorem : axiom`? The left side is empirical while the right side is analytic. I dealt with 'objective truth' via "truths are unknowable except by approximation"; that was obviously scoped to empirical truths, as analytic truths can be known precisely as well as their axioms and rules of inference.

    If there is no difference between facts and truths can something be a fact today and not be be true another day? I am not understanding why you think facts can be wrong instead of a person's claim to be outright wrong. Please make the distinction from a wrong fact and a wrong claim. I mentioned truths can be temporal as weather is temporal. Can facts be temporal?

    @Logikal: No, I mean to allow for a "fact" to be somehow mistaken. For example: is "objects with mass attract each other" a fact? According to Newtonian physics: yes. According to General Relativity: no. There is the phenomenon of "theory-ladenness of observation", which plays a bit role in Kuhn 1962. Without this kind of nonfoundationalist construal of 'fact', as far as I can tell you end up with something awfully like logical positivism, with all of its flaws. What appears to be true morphs as you learn more—as pretty much any student knows who keeps track of what [s]he used to believe.

    You are speaking only from the view of science. It is like if I use truth only from the view of America. This is a limited view. Objectively I can speak of all views which is the context in deductive reasoning. If there is any case the claim is false that means it does not hold 100%. In this way the claim has a truth value of FALSE. What students do often is to hold an authority figures words as if it came from a deity & misuse the word FACT. THEN you end up with x is a fact in India and the same x is not a fact elsewhere. This is problematic & misusing the word FACT. Facts cannot be wrong

    facts are perceptions about reality that are seemingly inarguable and truths are perceptions that match reality? this is right out of "philosophy and the mirror of nature" ... from the pragmatic and deconstruction and deflationary camps, to say something is true is to merely assert P is warranted. in this way, certitude is the only difference that makes a difference between facts and truths; both are perceptions about reality and there is no test for perceptions, given "matching" reality is simply a matter of quality and utility, not correspondence. no?

    @StevenHoyt: I just came across the following quote of William James: "But please observe, now, that when as empiricists we give up the doctrine of objective certitude, we do not thereby give up the quest or hope of truth itself. We still pin our faith on its existence, and still believe that we gain an ever better position towards it by systematically continuing to roll up experiences and think." (_The Will to Believe_) I'm taking a realist position that you can get _closer_ to the truth. Without realism (however 'critical' you like), I see no difference between 'fact' and 'truth'.

    great quote, @labreuer ! i have a couple from welbrecht and others currently embroiled in the topic, but too long to quote here. paraphrased, and perhaps from an extra-epistemological vantage, the use of the word "true" doesn't correspond to reality and phenomenal occasions words are to share space with it, but exactly and only occasions where "warranted" and "well justified" do, such that there's no difference in use or meaning having exchanged the words completely. there may be an "out there" truth, but "its" discovery is entailed in justification, which makes "it" quite irrelevant.

  • I want to make some general points about the OP.

    Firstly, you appear to be asking for how the words truth and fact are used, but you capitalize these words. That already tends to obfuscate the issue, suggesting there is some very special, possibly metaphysical, usage you are alluding to.

    Secondly, in asking for the meaning of individual words, you are suggesting that the unit of meaning is a single word. This is not true, as any cursory look in a dictionary will demonstrate. There are multiple entries for both truth and fact, not in the the least because the meaning of the words is modified by their context, and that therefore truth and fact can have multiple meanings in different contexts.

    Now, it happens to be the case that one such dictionary entry for truth is "conforming to the facts" and for fact "a particular truth known". This is from the Oxford Dictionary, but I assume any dictionary would have similar definitions. This only goes to show that in one important sense truth and fact are interchangeable.

    I don't think this answers the question. The OP admits these words can be used interchangeably, but is looking for some difference between them. You appear to be saying there is no difference between them. It would help to have references to philosophers who take this position that truth and fact are the same so the reader can get more information.

    The Answer doesn't say that 'fact' and 'truth' are interchangeable, only that in one important sense they are so. And that whether they are interchangeable depends on context. It might have been useful to have examples but the basic claim that words such as 'fact' and 'truth' do not have nuclear, essentialist meanings but contextually dependent meanings strikes me as sound. Cf Frege : “Only in the context of a sentence do words have meaning.”. Different contexts, different sentences, different meanings. This is a sound methodological point to make. Hello again, btw ! Best - G

    I think 'fact' has largely had its day; the notion is seldom discussed by philosophers nowadays mainly because no-one has been able to find a non-circular definition or analysis. 'Truth' enjoys variable fortunes.

  • truth is a generally accepted outcome or reasoning while fact is a proven truth...in other words every Fact is True but not all Truths are facts. Example 1+1=2 is a fact (only one result proven truth), but 2=1+1 is true but not fact(infinite result as 2=1x2,2=6-4,2=2+0 to infinity.

    This is mathematically illiterate.

  • In a sense, say from deflationary theory or pragmatism for instance, facts and truths are labels, ways of talking. Both are lingual. The only difference that makes a difference is that facts are apparent and obvious while all propositions that are truth-bearing require warrant, justification.

    For example, it is a fact that the sky is blue when it is blue and that roses that are red are red ... it is also a fact that colors do not exist.

    If we look at how we're using our vocabularies, then we can ultimately notice as some have in philosophy, that whatever else we'd say about facts and truths are just particular distinctions a group of people have found useful to make in their sort of conversations about them.

    well, if that was a bad comment, then at least three pennacle philosophers can be discarded. (it helps to comment if you're going to give a negative vote; it's constructive and simply good etiquette)

    +1 I agree with you about negative voting. However, I would like more references. You mention "as some have in philosophy". Who are these some?

    rorty, famously in "mirror" and to some extent we begin to get that in kant in "critique" (the more famous one). wittgenstein and an entire genre of continental philosophers, from heiddegger to derrida and to the marixists like engel. these are each and in their own way, of course, but the notion is the social nature of "truth" and the apparentness problem of "fact". hope that helps.

  • First, truth and fact are two words made by men, so we have to examine what men mean when they use the word truth, and when they use the word fact.

    A news reporter is always reminded to include answers in reporting a news item, to the following interrogative terms, what I call the five w's and one h, namely: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

    So, let us start with what is a fact? It is a word indicating an event i.e. an occurrence in the world that is experienced by men, for examples: It is a fact that dogs bark, it is a fact that the woman delivered a baby, it is a fact that the moon illuminates the night sky.

    And what is a truth, in the world of humankind?

    A truth is the opposite of a lie, as simple as that.

    Wait, and what is a lie?

    A lie is a communication from a man that is contrary to what knows in his mind [some folks will find my words here familiar to themselves in their school days].

    So, truth and lie are opposite correlatives.

    Examples of lies: a jeweler tells his customer that the ring he is selling is a diamond ring, but he knows the ring is a fake diamond ring, the diamond in the ring is just a piece of plain glass, next - an applicant to a job tells his prospective employer that he finished a college degree of mechanical engineering, but he knows he has no such college degree, a husband telling his wife he was held up by traffic on his way home, but he was not held up by traffic, instead he dropped in at the new bar in town.

    In ordinary communication truth and fact are used interchangeably, though.

    If you ask me, I will tell you that truth depends on man's experiences of facts - however, he could be mistaken with his experiences of facts; this still does not mean that there is no certainty at all - it just means that every human must check carefully for ascertaining that the facts are really facts, and not mistaken facts.

  • We look INSIDE ourselves to find truths. OUTSIDE of ourselves to find facts.

    • Chocolate is good = Truth, not fact • I love my mom = Truth, not fact • God exists = Truth, not fact

    Many things exist in truth (according to an observer), and not fact. Truths need an observer to exist. Facts stand independent of an observer, wether we like it or not.

    • The sun exists = fact • The earth orbits the sun = fact

    Your answer explains nothing and gives no sources or references. What does that mean, "to find truths inside"? Is there chocolate inside of you?

    If my answer explains nothing, you must not read very well. No, chocolate is not inside me, but the preference for it is. Truths are subjective, facts are objective. Plain enough for you?

    No need to get rude. An answer here is supposed to give more than your opinion and/or examples. If you disagree, read the FAQ on good answers. That wasn't by downvote, which means that I'm not the only one finding your answer not useful.

  • A fact by definition expresses something MUST forever be TRUE. A fact is not voted upon by a majority. A fact is not a belief or percieved by individuals. Your perception and your subjective beliefs can be wrong but a fact can never be wrong by definition. If you think a fact can be wrong, then someone or you made a wrong claim, period. If I say all women are 12 feet tall, all it takes is one sample to disprove the original claim. One woman who is not 12 feet tall disproves the original claim and it is A Fact the original claim is false. A fact contains very specific content that prevents a misreading or misinterpretation. In this way the truth value of a fact can never change. You could be guilty of using loose language (vague or ambiguous terminology) by avoiding the specifics to deceive others or persuade others. You can misrepresent facts. This is why classical logic had strength in fallacy detection.

    Some truths are corresponding truths. That is, the claim matches the sense verification. So if it is true that you are sitting in a chair right now, this is verifiable by the senses as true or false. One should take note you sitting in the chair is not forever true. This truth would only be temporal. This gives the impression some truths are relative or contextual. The verification of the senses is usually what science uses as a standard of truth. Objective truths are not always verifiable though so scientific thinkers will claim either there are no objective truths or no human would be able to detect them.

    Objective truths are usually spoken about when one claims a proposition is true or false. Objective truths are independent and are not biased, opinionated, subjective, relative, voted upon, etc. The truths would be true even if there were no humans. Snakes would still be reptiles. The Sun would still be the same, Jupiter would still be the same, addition would still be the same, subtraction still the same, plant life still the same, etc. To say some thing is objective is to say this proposition does not change its truth value over time. So in Aristotelian logic a syllogism in the mood AAA in the first figure is always valid would be an example of an objective claim. This notion if it is true would also be a fact. Suppose I claim x is objective and end up being wrong? Well then my claim was objectively false the second I uttered it. Even if you don't know the truth value of a given proposition there us STILL a truth value. Not knowing the truth value is no excuse to deny the truth of a proposition proof or no proof. Proposition values do not depend on your existence as they are independent. The proposition "there is a God" has a truth value with or without an existing proof. You just may not know the truth value. Being specific as possible instead of trying to generalize as much would reduce possible misunderstandings or misinterpretation .

    "A fact contains very specific content that prevents a misreading or misinterpretation."—So is there "action at a distance" between particles with mass, charge, and/or color? Is that a fact? Your definition of 'fact' would appear to make any and all empirical statements unknowable as facts. That leaves analytic statements, e.g. theorems which flow from specific axioms via specific rules of inference. And yet, the word 'fact' is used more widely than this.

    @labreuer, science uses their own slang.Many social group have their own slang amongst its members & people outside of the membership will not KNOW the slang context being used. If a child hears the word fact does that child expect different people to use the exact same word in different ways? NO! The word is meant to be universal just like words like triangle, stop, No, animal, etc.Those concepts can be understood fairly easy no matter what language we use. They don't differ depending on which street corner you are on. Science is all about probability. Science cannot be 100% by definition.

    I'm afraid I don't know what you mean by "very specific content", then. Outside of analytic truths in formal systems, there is nothing more specific than science. I think there is tension between "very specific content" and "A fact by definition expresses something MUST forever be TRUE." There is an inherent trade-off between specificity and generalization. How we describe reality _changes_ with time. For example, we no longer think the earth is enclosed in a glass dome. Per your stance, your example of "The Sun would still be the same" reduces to "Sun = Sun", which says very little.

    @@labreuer you are using a science slang that many people do not use. Children would not know your slang because it will change depending on too many things. THEN they would get the idea nothing is certain. By specific content I mean adding proper descriptions where possible instead of taking shortcuts. Objective facts never change so that is not a problem. The fact that things CHANGE OVERTIME tells you objectively those things were not facts but things BELIEVED to be facts. There is a difference. What people believe or think about x is more psychology than philosophy.

  • Facts are statements which hold correct on the subject's nature, property, incidents or behaviour etc.

    Truth is an instance of quoting one or many of the facts while describing or discussing the subject.

  • The difference between truth and fact is that fact is something that cannot be combated with reasoning, for it is logic itself. But truth is something which depends on a person's perspective and experience.

    Facts are not logic itself. Logic is independent of contents. It's not logic that tells us that cells multiply by cleavage, or that the distance to the moon varies. Your notion of truth is also weird, since totally relativistic. Your answer lacks sources, and is, as it stands, nothing more than a unfounded opinion. Please note that this question already has an accepted answer that is way more elaborate. Maybe you could try to point out what the other answer is lacking instead of just adding to the pile.

    ok, thanks for the comment, but just saying I don't study philosophy and I'm only answering questions for fun, but i will try to improve my answers

    @iphigenie What do you mean by "Your notion of truth is also weird, since totally relativistic"? I didn't know that there was any disagreement in philosophy that the truth of a proposition depends on the context, including the implicit and explicit assumptions. I see nothing weird with expecting that a person's perspective and experience will influence the context and assumption it has when judging the truth of a proposition. Note: Of course you are right with your other criticism concerning missing references, existing good answers and general unclear formulation of the answer.

    @ThomasKlimpel I don't necessarily disagree with what you said. But I vote for making that notion explicit, and "something which depends on a person's perspective and experience" doesn't look like a truth definition entry from a philosophical dictionary, therefore I would prefer to have it elaborated. Also, as to historical notions of truth, I'm pretty sure that there *was* a discussion about whether or not truth has anything to do with subjectivity. What about ancient correspondence theories?

    As you can see, Bonnie, the notion that Truth is dependent on a particular *context* is something that gets philosophers very excitable. Some of us think it's a great way of dealing with problems for theories of truth like the Liar Paradox (which is discussed quite often in this StackExchange), while some of us think it's pulling things too far from notions of objective reality to be comfortable with it. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Truth (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth/) is a nice introduction, if you'd like to read more!

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